South End Stew: So I Lied

by Kelsey Hamlin

When it was all over and I said,

“I realized college doesn’t usually happen for people like me,”

Your face tensed

and you asked what I meant.

I remembered you don’t know what it’s like to live in poverty.

You didn’t see the majority of my life, little property.

I don’t know how to explain growing up in passing

without the hours suddenly amassing.

How the rats itched at the walls

in our house that could easily fall.

How your absence made me rip out my hair

kneeling by the bathtub with my mom crying there.

Watching a mother stoop into depression again and again

Telling myself reading and homework would make it all end.

At least,

—— temporarily.

Making my friends my family

during tragedy.

Watching one family buy a FitBit

—– just because

they feel like it

Yet claiming they don’t have any money,

that you all struggle to pay bills and live happily

While the other debates which necessity is cheaper,

knowing full well we don’t have heat or

Water when the weather gets too cold or too hot.

Or packing because the bank wants your spot,

that house you grew up in and all of its rot.

Or pretending it’s okay when it’s really not

Because your mom doesn’t know how to do taxes

and you figure it out before too much time lapses.

Or skipping out on field trips and senior celebrations

knowing full well that money should be spent on obligations.

Or feeling bad any time you eat or ask for anything

because capitalism always squeezes for one last wring.

Or the way depression grips someone like a cold knife

plunging into their stomach, asking to take a life.

Or hearing lies drip from a parent’s mouth for years

ribbon-wrapped deceptions just for your ears

manifesting all of your fears

that, really,

—– you’re alone.

Only I would get myself anywhere

and, it’s funny, because that’s how I’m here

[But I did find support systems]

A teacher who created expectation

asked me to rise to the occasion

—— of life.

He said, let scars take over the abrasion.

And my life-long friends who

honestly helped me through

—– all of it.


I forgot you don’t understand that even with your fatherly hand

your eyes missed most of my life on accident.

I don’t know how to explain this to you

without hurting you too

Because I love you,

I do.

So I lied